You can book a luxurious Disney resort hotel for relaxation in style, dine at upscale restaurants, and watch fireworks from your hotel balcony, but Disney World is really about the unique entertainment that awaits behind the park entry turnstiles. From theme parks to evening entertainment spectaculars, an admission ticket is what lies between you and the main attractions of a Disney World vacation. And all that lies between you and a ticket is the price and a multiplicity of choices.

Theme Park Tickets

Without question, the Disney theme parks are the main reason millions of visitors flock to the Walt Disney World Resort each year. The Magic Kingdom is the oldest and most popular, but Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom are also flooded with visitors throughout the year. There are a variety of ways to access the theme parks, from purchasing entry to a single park for a single day, to purchasing an unlimited entry ticket to all parks for the year.

Single Day Single Park Tickets

With the most basic option, guests can purchase a single park ticket in front of each theme park on the day they visit. The ticket will allow entry to the park at anytime during the opening hours, and guests may come and go from the park if necessary to return to their hotel or visit another area of the resort.

Disney offers discounts when you purchase tickets for multiple days, so this single day option usually only makes sense for guests visiting the park for only one or two days. It may also be the option of choice for guests who don’t want to lay out their vacation day by day, and prefer to choose each morning what they want to do. However, single day single entry is so expensive that guests who demand flexibility should consider the park hopper option for multi-day vacations.

Magic Your Way Tickets

When you purchase a Magic Your Way Ticket, you select the length of your vacation up to ten days.  On each day of your vacation, you can visit on park to visit. For multi-day vacations, these tickets save you money over the cost of buying tickets one day at a time, and the discounts increase as the days add up.

Be sure to research ticket options and plan ahead - there are many choices.

Be sure to research ticket options and plan ahead – there are many choices.

This may be a relatively straightforward process for Disney World veterans, but can be trickier for guests who are new to the resort. Planning a vacation day by day will certainly help to create a smooth and efficient vacation experience, but it also limits flexibility just a bit. If you or your family end up feeling disappointed by one of the theme parks (which is unlikely – but maybe it’s just not for you), it is a shame to waste a full day there. Guests may also find so much to visit at a single park that one day is not enough. Do your best to research the full range of attractions the theme park to decide if they are worth a visit, or if a second day at another park is better worth your time.

Most guests can find enough to enjoy at each and every theme park to fill at least a single day. If your vacation allows for it, allotting one day for each park is usually a good way to go. For guests with young children, a second day at Magic Kingdom is also advisable. Trading days between multiple adults is a great way to allow children to focus on the rides designed for them while adults get a full day or two half days to enjoy a wider variety of attractions.

Park Hopper Option

There are several options that guests can add to their base Magic Your Way tickets to allow for more flexibility and access. The park hopper option turns your single park pass into a multi-park passport, allowing you to visit any number of the four theme parks on the day for which the ticket is valid.

This option allows for ultimate flexibility, but that flexibility comes at a price. A single day park hopper option is almost double the cost of a single park ticket, and while the cost per ticket drops with each day, it drops at similar rate as the base Magic Your Way passes so that you are still paying double what you otherwise would.

Park Hopper lets you visit multiple parks in a single day. Be sure that fits your plans before you spend the money on it.

Park Hopper lets you visit multiple parks in a single day. Be sure that fits your plans before you spend the money on it.

To get the full benefit of a park hopper, it is best to plan on visiting multiple parks per day. Purchasing the upgrade simply to avoid planning your vacation day by day is a lot of money to pay to postpone your decision making. Doing your research and psyching yourself up for each experience is a much more cost effective approach.

The park hopper begins to make sense for guests who situate themselves perfectly to maximize their time. Adults might spend a day in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom with the kids, before dropping them off at an activity center to enjoy a luxurious dinner at Epcot’s World Showcase. Spending the hot afternoon seeing one of the many shows at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a great way to cool off after a morning rushing around Disney’s Animal Kingdom (plus, animals, unlike Disney World visitors, are much more active in the morning).

Water Park Fun & More and No Expiration

The other options to add to your Magic Your Way base tickets are Water Park Fun or the No Expiration plan. The first allows you to visit the two Disney World water parks as well as DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course.

With the No Expiration option, guests may purchase a Magic Your Way ticket for up to 10 days, and keep any days they don’t use for an unlimited time. This option is perfect for guests planning multiple shorter vacations in the same year, or consecutive years. They can take advantage of the greater discounts that come with a seven day or longer ticket without having to spend a full week at Disney World all at once.

Annual Passes and Premium Annual Passes

These tickets allow unlimited same-day admission to the four Disney World theme parks for one full year, and the Premium option includes the same additional areas as the Water Park Fun & More. At around $550, you would only need to purchase seven days worth of single park single day tickets before the annual pass becomes the cheaper option.

So Many Options

There are many combinations of ticket options, and no one choice is right for everyone.  It depends on the length of your vacation, what you want to do, and even your planning style.  But doing a bit of homework before you arrive in Orlando, you can plan ahead and not only get the best fit for tickets but also the best deal.